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Foley slams Lord Mayor over public art

08 Dec 2016

Foley slams Lord Mayor over public art Image

Minister for the Creative Industries and local member Martin Foley publicly slammed Lord Mayor Robert Doyle last month over his comments on Transurban’s new public art display at the Power St Loop.

Speaking at the official launch at the Malthouse Theatre on November 30 Minister Foley criticised the Lord Mayor for taking a “backwards approach” on public art in our city.

It followed the Lord Mayor’s initial comments at the November 22 Future Melbourne Committee meeting where he said he “wasn’t a fan” of the artwork at the Power St Loop, known as Habitat Filter.

An expanded report in the Herald Sun followed, where he was quoted saying that he thought the sculpture was “too intrusive”, “a pity” for the Arts Precinct and dominated the landscape.

Minister Foley hit back at the Lord Mayor, informing guests at Transurban’s official launch for the sculpture that he had phoned the Lord Mayor to “set him straight”.

“While I agree with my friend the Lord Mayor a lot, I don’t agree with him here,” he said. “While his comments were no doubt heartfelt, he has misjudged his criticisms.”

“It breaks hearts of our creative designers who are looking for support from the City of Melbourne.”

While acknowledging that the sculpture was something that would be talked about for years to come, he said the Lord Mayor’s comments were misplaced in the effort to encourage the next generation of public art designers.

He instead praised the sculpture as a “huge, creative post-it note.”

“I already love it!” he said. “I think it fits this part of Southbank like a glove.”

“I congratulate Transurban on recognising the power of creativity – and for providing opportunities for creative talent to generate fresh ideas, push boundaries and bring exciting new creative works to life.”

“These are examples of how creativity can be used to transform spaces and communities in imaginative and sustainable ways.”

Transurban CEO Scott Charlton also acknowledged the Lord Mayor’s critique during his speech at the launch stating: “It’s good people are talking about it!”

Designed by Melbourne designers Matt Drysdale, Matt Myers and Tim Dow, Habitat Filter features a series of pods with a range of sustainability elements including specially-designed nesting boxes for birds and bats, solar panels to offset lighting at night and the use of recycled materials.

Transurban also partnered with Landcare Australia to revegetate the site with native plants, and ran a number of projects in the local community with the neighbouring Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School (VCASS).

Mr Charlton said the inspiration for the project came from the three pillars of Transurban’s sustainability strategy – to be good neighbours, use less and think long term.

“Habitat Filter is a great example of how we can rethink the use of vacant land along our roads to make cities more liveable,” he said.

“It shows how we can engage the community to transform the urban landscape and deliver lasting benefits to the communities in which we operate.”

“We’re very excited to see this new, iconic entrance into the heart of Melbourne’s arts precinct.”

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